tv [untitled] July 3, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm PDT
elsbernd, supervisor farrell, supervisor kim, supervisor mar, supervisor olague. supervisor wiener. mr. president, all are present. president chiu: thank you. could you please join me in the pledge of allegiance? >> one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. president chiu: madam clerk, we have our meeting minutes from may 15 and may 22. can i have a motion to approve the minutes?
a motion to approve the minutes by supervisor avalos. seconded by supervisor elsbernd. without objection, the minutes are approved. madam clerk, do we have any communications? clerk calvillo: we have no communications. president chiu: can we go to the agenda? colleagues, would anyone like to sever these items? an roll call vote. clerk calvillo: supervisor elsbernd, supervisor farrell, supervisor kim, supervisor mar, supervisor cohen, supervisor wiener, supervisor avalos, supervisor campos, president chiu, supervisor chu, supervisor olague. president chiu: item 37.
clerk calvillo: item 37 appropriates all estimated receipts and expenditures for departments of the city and county of san francisco as of may 31, 2012, for the fiscal years of 2013 and 2014. president chiu: colleagues, and a discussion? can we do this same house, same call? these ordinances are finally passed. item 39. clerk calvillo: mr. president, i only read item 37. president chiu: i am sorry. clerk calvillo: 2013 and 2014. president chiu: colleagues, can we do this same house, same call? these items are finally passed. item 39. clerk calvillo: to become effective through june 2014.
president chiu: colleagues, do we have a motion to excuse supervisor elsbernd? without objection, he shall be excused. roll call vote. clerk calvillo: on item 39, supervisor farrell, supervisor kim, supervisor mar, supervisor olague;, supervisor wiener, supervisor avalos, supervisor campos, president chiu, supervisor chu, supervisor cohen. there are 10 ayees. -- ayes. president chiu: these items are finally passed. item number 40. clerk calvillo: adopting the requisite findings. president chiu: roll call vote. clerk calvillo: on item 40, supervisor elsbernd, supervisor farrell, supervisor kim,
supervisor mar, supervisor olague, supervisor wiener, supervisor alioto-pier, supervisor campos, president chiu, supervisor chu, supervisor cohen. there are 11 ayes. president chiu: the ordinance is finally passed. clerk calvillo: this is to change the election cycle for the offices of city attorney and treasurer so that they will be elected in the same year as the sam ford district attorney, mayer, and share, and to change the definition so that such elections occur only in even of verdict -- even numbered years. president chiu: supervisor wiener? supervisor wiener: could we move
this after item 42? president chiu: colleagues, without objection, we will move this to after 32. clerk calvillo: city-wide offices with run-up to elections. president chiu: supervisor campos. supervisor campos: i can defer. supervisor: a number of us introduced a charter amendment to repeal this voting across the city, and we came to the solution to appeal it -- repeal it in the spirit of compromise. i think there was an opportunity to go and collect signatures or to see if we could work on the board, and i know there is a number of discussion points today. i am sure a number of colleagues of commons. i want to open up the floor and have that discussion.
supervisor campos? supervisor campos: thank you, mr. chair, and i want to thank supervisor farrell. a lot of things have been made out of rank chase of voting and things that would ensue or have been sued. i think that any analysis of this voting in my view demonstrates the parade of horribles has not materialized, and, in fact, i think some of the criticisms that have been levied against ranked choice of voting are criticisms that would most definitely apply to what is being proposed. and the idea that we would have a september runoff, and that would have a solution to the supposedly turnout and other
issues around confusion, i do not think that is confusing. i do not think that is supported by evidence. the fact is the voting system that we have in place is a system that has led to increase voter turnout. it is a system that has engaged more citizens in san francisco in the elections, and with respect to the idea that somehow ranked choice of voting has somehow been too confusing for some voters, i just do not think the evidence proves that. the analysis we have seen, including the analysis done at the local agency commission, shows there is a pretty good understanding of rank choice of voting, and if you compare it to other types of the elections that happen within our very own system, including elections to the college board, elections to the board of education that the
level of confusion as demonstrated by the data shows that ranked choice of voting actually has a lower level of confusion. i think that if there is a need to change the system, it is not to get rid of ranked choice of voting but to simply enhance the level of information that is provided to voters and enhance the level of education that is done by the department of elections. that i think is the solution. the reality is there is no perfect system of voting and that the run amok system that has been talked about as being the ideal is a system that has its own problems, it's of unchallenged as. it is not so much that i think a lot of allegations have been made that simply have not been proven. the other thing that i would say is that i know there has been discussion at some point of
various compromises, and i have always said that i am open to compromise, but i think that the thing about compromise is that compromise has to come at the right time. it has to come at a time when it is actually necessary. one thing i have heard as being floated as a possible compromise is the idea that you get rid of rank choice voting only with respect to the mayor's race, and i am open to discussing that possibility, but if the focus is really the mayor's race, then the fundamental question for me is why acted today? we just had a mayor's race last year, and if there is a fear that somehow there will be confusion, that there will be low voter turnout in the next mayor's race, then we have the opportunity between now and the next election which would be in 2015, i guess, for mayor.
there is plenty of time for us to work on a compromise that makes sense. why do we need to put a measure on the ballot in the year 2012 if that is the route that some of my colleagues choose to follow? why do we need to put a measure on the ballot that would try to have rank choice of voting for everything except for the mayor's race when the mayor's race is not taking place until much later? i just do not understand the reasoning, and i think that before we go down the road, we need to make sure that we also do not have unintended consequences. the idea of a september runoff is something that i think would have some very negative consequences for the very goals that we are trying to accomplish. i do think that voter turnout will be extremely low, and i
also think it will be especially low in certain communities, and i also believe we have yet to hear any evidence that our elections department will be able to handle yet another election, in june, in september, the november. i do not think this is as carefully thought out as it needs to be, so i would urge my colleagues to not go down this road. i do not think we need to put anything on the ballot, whether it is the charter amendment in its current form or any amendment to it. i think that is a mistake, and i respectfully ask that you do not do that. thank you. supervisor farrell: : supervisor wiener? supervisor wiener: thank you. i respect supervisor campos' comments, but i respectfully disagree. what is before us today is
already a compromise. i'm not saying everyone has agreed to it, but it has been reduced from what it was. it was originally put on the ballot, and i supported, that would repeal the right choice voting entirely. i supported it when it was on the ballot for many years and continued to support it. in the last several years, i have come to believe that it is not the best way to conduct an election, keeping in mind that every single system, including the system we have, the system we have now, the system that is being proposed, and other systems that have been presented, none is perfect. they all have upside and downside, but i think going back to the runoff system is the better way of assuring maximizing voter engagement and making sure there are clear things between candidates, and given the state of the press coverage of local elections and
given the lack of information in terms of distinguishing among candidates, especially when you have a large pool of candidates, i think having that ability to distinguish this is beneficial. if we go to only repealing it for the mayoral, that is a further compromise, so just to be clear in terms of where we started, there has already been quite a bit of compromise. in terms of the timing, we heard from, when we were thinking about putting their appeal on the june election, supporters kept telling us, no, do not do it in june. if you are going to do it, do it in november, because the presidential election is going to have a super high turnout, that is when it needs to go on the ballot, so i do not agree that this november will be an inappropriate time.
if we want the most voters to weigh in on this, it should be in a presidential election, and the fact that we are doing it now three years before the next mayoral, that is the best way to do it. the last thing you want to do is to be changing or repealing this for the mayoral election, for example, on the eve of the election, the year before, for example, so it is a good thing to be doing it well in advance because we do not know who will be running or what the dynamics are. we are doing it on a policy basis only. in terms of the september primary, the way this is structured i think will work well. it automatically sends the top two to the november runoff, and unless someone gets a supermajority, so it avoids a situation where someone avoids sneaking -- squeaking in, they
have to have a percentage in order to avoid a runoff entirely, and in terms of the department of elections having the ability to handle this additional election, frankly, we did this for many years when we had run off, so i think the department is quite capable of handling an additional election, so for those reasons and others, i will be supporting this charter amendment today. supervisor farrell: : k ? -- supervisor kim? supervisor kim: i am glad we are talking about this, such a frank discussion. i did not supported before because when we look at the data, it is a limited amount of data. when we look at the data for the runoff, what we find is that in every election for office, the turnout has always decreased
from november to december, and that has always been my primary concern. what i did mention is that the one exception to that was the 1999 and 2003 mayoral race, where voter turnout actually increased. those are two particular cases where the city was severely engaged, and there were exciting candidates, and i am not saying that will always happen in the future, but what we talked about is what i would consider, which is in the case of voter turnout increases, i would consider moving to that. and i think for other reasons, whether it is the board of supervisors, the attorney, what we see is that less voters come out in december, and we have less voters determining who represents them in that particular office, so that is what i said before. the second issue about whether if we were to move to a system like that whether his is
september or november or december, i think it is really hard to say in september we would get the turnout we would like to see, but i am open to having a conversation about that. of course, we have a limited amount of time before putting that on the ballot. there will be great turnout this year because it is a presidential election year. but i also understand the concern that if we have another four years, should we not spend more time really examining what the best solution would be, and the last thing i would say about this charter amendment is how we came to the number of 55%. there does not seem to be a basis or formula with which we picked that number. i am not sure it was based on other types of primary, but usually we do 50% plus 1%, and i understand we want to have a higher threshold for candidates in order not to go to a general
election, but i do have questions about how that number came to be. i would just like a lot more information on how we determined that number. supervisor farrell: ? president chiu: thank you, mr. chair. i would also like to hear about that. supervisor: when we talked about going to a runoff, with all of my colleagues, i shared the same sentiment that i wanted to maximize voter turnout. inherently with two elections, one would have a higher voter turnout than another. the idea of the september election, that is to say that in a general election, we will have the highest voter turnout.
i understand however. when you look at the mayor's race, this did have higher turnout. but when we were talking about broader city-wide offices, we wanted to maximize turnout. that is what brought up the construct of this september election. because this has not happened before in san francisco, and i think there was a generic fear of the unknown, we wanted to make sure that it was very difficult or a little bit more of a burden for someone, when potentially voter turnout would be lower. i think we would all agree. to what degree, we do not know, but there will be lower turnout in september than in the november general election. i think we can assume that, and we will work to make sure it is as high as possible, but we want to make sure it is a very high threshold to win an outright.
the 65% number came from a number of stakeholders and was a compromise. there was no magic behind it, but that was the purpose and the intent behind it and one that got everyone comfortable with it to submit it the way it is today. supervisor farrell: president chiu? president chiu: thank you. first, i want to thank supervisor farrell and the others working on this. i want to go to the comments from supervisor campos. i have been one who has thought it has worked as it was intended. i think it has also led to more positive campaigning, and i think we have seen that a huge percentage of san franciscans i think fairly understand the system, have exercised their choices, and i think the system has worked relatively well.
that being said, i certainly appreciate the perspective for change. i also think if we're going to make changes to it, we should consider the average, and i am concerned with the current proposal, which i do not support in its court form -- current form. i think it moves away from what we have seen. that being said, colleagues, i answered it in a set of amendments with regards to this version which i hope captures some of the concerns and sentiments of what we are trying to achieve. i do think that given the issues that were brought up there are a lot of issues that some would have been open to seeing the mayoral race go into a runoff. i think that if there is a measure that it be focused on the mayor's race, my strong preference is that the runoff to a mayor's race be a rank choice
ron off and that if there is going to be the two elections that it be in november/december set of elections as opposed to a september-november set of elections. i think the september-november time frame, it is obviously an incredible experiment we are making. we know what november looks like. we also know that in the last three mayoral elections, two of which were contested, those that were contested saw a very high turnout. the only alexian that did not have a high turnout was in 2011, where mayor newsom at that time did not have the type of incumbent competitiveness that we have seen both in 2003 as well as in 1999, so my proposal, colleagues, would be to focus just on the mayor's race, have to be a rank choice vote up to
the first run off and then shipped the election to the november time frame. supervisor farrell: president chiu, are you making a motion to amend? president chiu: i am. supervisor: supervisor farrell? supervisor farrell: just to be clear to people in this drama, one of the many issues about rank choice of voting, and the primary for me, is the notion of confusion. this amendment exacerbates that confusion. eisenreich -- i understand the comments about going to a mayoral race. it is not something i would ideally like to see, but i think it is worth talking about. this amendment to have the right choice of voting in the runoff to be exacerbated, and i think it could be the worst thing we can do today.
so while i appreciate it, i will be voting against it and hope my colleagues to the same. supervisor wiener: i hear there is an amendment. president chiu: that amendment is circulating. if you want to take a few minutes, i am happy to support that. supervisor wiener: i think i understand. i just wanted to make sure i had the paper. supervisor: supervisor olague? are you offering amendments? supervisor olague: yes, i am offering an amendment to limit to just the mayor.
supervisor: this is amended. this is what is currently on the floor. supervisor: -- cohen: i would like her to clarify. supervisor olague: my amendment, my intention was to limit the runoff election to just the mayor's race and not to the other lesser offices, like sheriff and some of the other offices that were being suggested. it would just limit the runoff to the mayor's race.
supervisor cohen: this is not just for the attorney? president chiu: i am proposing in be limited to the mayor's race and that the specific changes would be to have a run of system. the first election would be a rank choice of voting system. in other words, if there are multiple candidates that would use the system we had used for a number of years to determine who those top two candidates are, as we did in the most recent mayoral race, and then those two candidates would go into a december runoff. that is the proposal. supervisor cohen: supervisor -- thank you. supervisor: supervisor campos?
supervisor campos: i am trying to understand the proposal. if you are saying you do not want to eliminate the right choice of voting for all city offices, but you are ok eliminating it for everything except for the mayor, what is the policy rationale for that, and second, it the focus is on the mayor, why act today in 2012 when the mayor's race is not happening for another few years? supervisor olague: i think for one, this is still a piece of legislation that would be going to the voters, so when i first signed onto this, part of my intention with signing on to this at all initially was because i felt we did need to reach some kind of a compromise, and rather than see